If there’s one thing that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that healthcare is a vital industry. In the past months, we’ve witnessed quick response times, tireless work, and genuine passion from healthcare professionals worldwide. While many of us may not stop to think about it, it takes an enormous amount of people, money, and dedication to keep our healthcare systems operated efficiently—even in the wake of unprecedented crises.
To respond to the unpredictable nature of the field, including everything from pandemics to annual checkups, it’s vital for those in healthcare, from doctors to all different types of nurses, to receive the best education possible. As healthcare continually adapts to a changing world, it’s crucial to recertify and keep up with new trends and technologies to be ready for the future of healthcare.
So, what will the future of healthcare education look like? How will healthcare professionals find ways to prepare for an unpredictable world? Here, we look into the future of healthcare and some of the most pressing issues that everyone should consider.
ONLINE HEALTHCARE CLASSES
In today’s world, we can do just about anything from our phones or laptops. Whether you’re looking to connect with friends, order dinner, or find a new doctor, our lives are now accessible from the touch of a button. Even education has seen a dramatic shift to online and purely digital courses, especially over the last decade. One study shows that roughly a third of college students now take at least one online class. From kindergarten to college, you can now receive an entire education from the comfort of your own living room.
Healthcare education has also shifted to digital platforms as a wide range of courses and online PALS courses have become available. While there will always be tangible benefits to face-to-face style learning, online courses have rapidly improved to meet the highest standards that are essential for the healthcare community.
To be useful in healthcare, you have to know your patients. While some healthcare providers, such as those in pediatrics, work with more specialized groups of patients, general physicians, nurses, and others must be versatile enough to treat a wide range of demographics.
As the baby boomer generation gets older, those in healthcare must be educated and prepared to work with this aging demographic on a larger scale. While just 13 percent of the population is considered in this older demographic now, by 2030, older adults will make up 20% of the American population. That’s quite the leap.
In recent years, America has also become a much more diverse country. Making us stronger overall, this does require healthcare providers to have more knowledge about each specific demographic and community. To address these shifting demographics, more resources (and workers) will be needed to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
NEW MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY
In the healthcare field, the tools of the trade are always advancing. From the early days of medicine, when you could see doctors using saws and leeches, we’ve certainly come a long way. New medical technology has allowed doctors to make significant leaps in saving lives and understanding the bodies and specific diseases; however, modern technology also allows for more advanced healthcare education. Below are just a few of the most recent technologies shaping how nurses and doctors learn and train.
1. 3D Printing
3D printing is one of the most exciting new technologies. Technically minded people around the world have used 3D printers to make almost anything, including guitars, shoes, toys, and even working firearms. But 3D printers aren’t just for fun—3D printers are also being used in medical training courses to create lifelike anatomy models. Both cost-effective and extremely detailed, these models enable students to practice surgeries and other procedures like never before.
2. Medical Simulations
We all know that practice makes perfect, which is why medical simulations are so important for doctors and nurses when lives are in their hands. While simulating medical procedures is nothing new for the medical field, new technologies have improved the effectiveness and efficiency of these simulations. Recently, doctors have begun using virtual reality to practice procedures to an unparalleled level of similarity to the real process.
CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Repeats, is a dynamic new technology that has reshaped medicine and science. Essentially, this technology allows scientists and doctors to cut and rearrange DNA sequences. What does this mean? CRISPR gene editing offers up a world of possibilities that could include cutting out pieces of the gene sequence that cause serious diseases or disabilities.
4. Robotic Surgery
Robotics technology, much like 3D printing, has a wide range of applications for almost any industry. Robots are now even assisting doctors with certain types of surgeries. During these types of operations, doctors can perform more complex procedures with less risk of error. Currently, robots are primarily used in minimally invasive surgeries, but as technology advances, they could be used in almost all situations.
With advances in medical technology and scientific research, the healthcare field will only continue to evolve—most likely at an even more rapid pace. Just think about how different the world was twenty years ago before social media and the rise of online shopping.
Healthcare workers must respond to a variety of factors to do their jobs well, including shifting demographics, new technologies, and of course, crises like pandemics. We all hope and pray we won’t need to experience these medical emergencies, but doctors and nurses have no other choice than to be prepared. Lives depend on it. This is why healthcare education needs to be an even greater focus in our communities. As healthcare needs change, so must our methods and tools for educating our doctors and nurses.